More than 500 lots of rare golfing memorabilia will be auctioned on 7 July at Bonhams in Chester to include presentation putters, named clubs, wrapped golf balls and a wonderful selection of photographs and literature.
A collection of items of golfing memorabilia estimated to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000 was a canny purchase at a recent Staffordshire car boot sale. The items, of little interest to the stall holder, were stashed in three cardboard boxes under the table – in all likelihood to be binned at the end of the day if there were no reasonable offers. The present owner paid £12 for the job lot, thinking that the letters and photographs of golfers in the 1920s and 1930s may reveal one or two interesting items.
The boxes turned out to contain the personal correspondence, diaries and photographs from the 1920s and 1930s of lady golfer Mollie Moore, a member of Stratford-on-Avon Golf Club. Captain of the club at that time was Samuel Ryder, who first donated the Ryder Cup in 1927 for competition between professional golfers from Great Britain and America. Ryder was a seed merchant who made his fortune by coming up with the idea of selling seeds in small packages. He will, however, always be remembered for the matches that bear his name.
In one of Mollie Moore‘s albums entitled ‘A Souvenir of a Week-end in the life of the Lady Captain of the Stratford-on-Avon Golf Club 1929‘, the first photograph is of ‘Our Captain Mr Samuel Ryder‘. The album contains over 60 photographs, mainly of a 36 hole four ball match played on 14 September 1929 between Mitchell, Havers and two of the Whitcombe brothers for a first prize of £100 put up by Sam Ryder. The album is estimated to fetch £750 – 1,000.
Highlight of the sale will be a 19th century long nose presentation putter, unusually decorated to the crown with a large carved Scottish thistle. The handiwork of a highly skilled clubmaker, this putter has stamped ‘Goudie & Co‘ on the shaft. It is only the fourth engraved long nose presentation club to be recorded and is estimated to sell for £6,000 – 8,000.
Golf balls are mass produced today, but up until the 1850s the leather-covered balls were stuffed with feathers. The process was hugely labour intensive. First the hide was softened with water and alum, then cut into pieces and sewn together with waxed thread, leaving a tiny hole to turn it inside out. It was then crammed with as many boiled feathers as possible. Included in the sale is a well-preserved example of a feather golf ball, 150 years old and estimated at £1,250 – 1,750.